A post at Tame the Web by Juliette Loebl (an MLIS student) makes me a bit jealous!
I am not tech-savvy. I would never hire myself to design a professional-looking website, or create a complex database. Yet, during the last year and a half, in library school, I have had the opportunity to experiment with new technology. Like my classmates, I have read enough Library Crunch , The Shifted Librarian, Tame the Web, Librarian in Black , to now nonchalantly toss out terms like, Open API, Casey Bisson's WPopac, and open source . In my time at Dominican, I learned HTML, Dreamweaver, Greenstone Software for the creation of online digital galleries), I wrote clunky metadata and contrasted that with tagging, I created wikis for class projects, joined MySpace, and I fell in love with a the slightly clunky beta version of Google Docs and calendars.
How cool is that? When people ask me what I’m learning in library school I frequently comment on the fact that I’m shocked at how few of the new technologies we’re using. As an online student I depend heavily on a clunky (not Firefox friendly) portal and Blackboard (which has a discussion board that reminds me of the 90s). Many of my classmates seem not to know about Web 2.0 tools and aren’t being introduced to them.
In my management class this past term we had to do a group project and it was me (not the curriculum) that introduced many of my fellow group mates (I think a few were already aware) to collaborative work spaces. We put together our notes and added comments to the document by using WriteWith.
Our cataloging professor asked us if we would like to use a wiki to keep track of useful tools and a few class members felt that this was a great idea! She set it up and no one (except for me – at last check) has added any content.
Why is that? Why aren’t we given the chance to (or encouraged to) experiment with new tools – and when given the opportunity why are so many students leaving it up to others to do the experimenting?
Maybe in my case it’s because many of my classmates (like myself) have full time (or part time) jobs and responsibilities at home in addition to their school work – who knows. All I know is that either I’m taking the wrong classes or Drexel is a bit behind the times when it comes to using new tools.
Without realizing it, my classmates and I have adjusted quickly to the expectations of this Library 2.0 world. Suddenly, writing a paper without the ability to hyperlink or comment feels incorrect, cumbersome, and a lot like busywork. A twenty-page research paper has lost its purpose without reflective discussion imbedded directly in the document. Web 2.0 has dramatically changed our expectations for the work we do. Perhaps we are now spoiled with the sense of self-importance that this interconnectedness has allowed; nevertheless, it is the reality that we have embraced. Information in a vacuum"”like a simple print document, or a password restricted Blackboard posting, does not provide the strong context for learning that open posting or a wiki can. In my just-under-two years at Dominican University, words that used to form concise and meaningful sentences have now taken on a blurry, complex significance. Words like scholarly, authoritative, information, online resources, research paper, document, library, and librarian, have weighty and multifaceted connotations. Web 2.0 has changed these concepts into dynamic, experiential abstractions. In this constantly shifting framework, both new and experienced librarians will struggle between the security of the older definitions, and the excitement of the future.
I’m very happy for Juliette and her classmates – and wish I was able to take some of the classes they’re taking!!